Travel Gear Gift Guide

March 27, 2017   17 Comments »

I really hate excess and stuff…unless of course said stuff helps me travel in some way! I know that you are bombarded by Holiday shopping lists already – Black Friday, Cyber Monday…blah. But I understand that unlike me, most of you do actually shop for the holidays – so I’ve put together a small list of my favorite travel gear and products that you might want to consider this holiday season as you shop for the traveler in your life.

 These are all products that I’ve personally used during the last 10 years of traveling.  When you live out of a suitcase, you don’t have room for stuff in your life that isn’t awesome.

Whether it’s for yourself planning a big trip or someone who just does an excessive amount of business travel or for some other traveler in your life – here are my best recommendations!

And I’ll tell you upfront – This list contains some affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the costs of running this site – that’s it…full disclosure.

My Favorite Travel Bags

I literally live out of my suitcases, so trust me when I say I give my gear a workout.  I’ve tried many different combinations of things over the last decade, but this was my most common travel setup this year.  I used my Eagle Creek rolling duffle suitcase, my Lowepro Photo Sport daypack & camera pack, and the Lowepro Passport Sling for a purse/camera bag.  On average with this setup I’m carrying about 75 pounds with me as I traverse the globe, which is way too much.  But it is what it is…when you need photo and computer gear, it’s part of the job!

Eagle Creek No Matter What Flatbed 32 Suitcase

favorite travel suitcaseI’ve been using the Eagle Creek No Matter What Flatbed 32 Suitcase  non-stop for 2 years now and it’s nothing fancy.  There are no bells and whistles or special compartments – it’s just basic – and that’s what I love about it. It’s sort of like a rolling duffle bag – and you can fit a TON into it when you have to.  The material is durable, waterproof, and lightweight.  I use Eagle Creek packing cubs (below) to keep everything organizes in the bag and it works perfectly for a long term traveler! AND – it’s even on sale right now on Amazon!  Finally – I have used Eagle Creek backpacks and suitcases now for 10 years of traveling – I LOVE the Eagle Creek brand.  They have a lifetime warranty and they just know travel.

Lowepro Passport Sling

travel camera bagA camera bag that looks and acts like a purse…yes there is such a thing! This year I started using the  Lowepro Passport Sling III as a great day to day bag for my photo and laptop gear. It looks and acts like a purse honestly – so this is a great dual purpose bag for the ladies! I can fit in my small mirrorless camera plus an extra lens and filters. Plus I bring my wallet and other essential purse items. It actually expands and I can even fit my 13 inch MacBook Pro in it too with a little jiggling around of items! So it’s perfect to take out exploring a town and you can actually carry everything with. My only complaint is that I wish it had more zip-able pockets.  I use this as my ‘small/personal item’ carry-on when I fly and can fit a bunch of stuff in it!  It might not work for a fancy night on the town, but it’s a great all purpose travel bag for the photo enthusiast!

Lowepro Photo Sport

carry on bag for hikers and photographersI use this as my primary carry on bag and put all of my expensive photo and computer equipment in it as I refuse to check those things for obvious reasons.  This is truly a hiking daypack for photographers – but when I’m traveling I use the back section that normally holds a water bladder for my 13 in Macbook Pro and it works great.  It’s compact and you can pack a lot of stuff in! I do a lot of hiking and photography, and I’ve always been on the lookout for a good camera backpack that was part proper day pack and part Pro camera gear holder. I finally found it in the Lowepro Photo Sport! I actually have done my last two big hikes (Costa Brava and Alaska) with this daypack as my photography bag and hiking bag! I was able to bring my camera and 2 lenses with me easily and it’s has easy access to the gear without having to take the back entirely off your back!
From a hiking standpoint it’s a great daypack, I was able to pack in rain gear, extra socks, snacks and a water bladder. Plus it has an easy way to carry hiking poles. This is a great solution for the truly active photographer who needs a bit of hiking and photography gear.

Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

travel gear packing cubes eagle creekPacking cubes are the key to packing happiness – they turn your bag into a piece of furniture. I use mine to organize my different types of clothes, just like I would a dresser; this packing cube has t-shits, this on has pants, this one has socks. You get the idea – it’s packing bliss. I use and love Eagle Creek Packing solutions. Not only do they keep me organized, but you can’t even imagine how much more I can fit into a suitcase or bag thanks to these babies!  I use these with my Eagle Creek No Matter What Suitcase to stay organized.

Learn more about Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Cube Set

Dry SackDry sacks are great for transporting cameras and smart phones in if you are caught in a downpour. I also regularly use them when I’m kayaking and I take gear with me I want to ensure stays dry even if I tip the kayak!  I normally carry two – a small one for my smart phone, and a larger one for my DSLR camera. This is also essential for most hiking gear lists as it helps keep your important gear dry inside your backpack.

Mountaintop Waterproof Dry Bag

Technology Travel Gear

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones

Travel Gear GiftsIf I could marry these headphones and have it’s babies I would. I love, love, love them. I actually just started using noise canceling headphones this year and my first reaction was “Oh Baby…where have you been my whole traveling life?” I don’t know about you but I adore shutting everyone out and just being in my own world for a bit and that’s exactly what these do – better than any other on the market.  They remove all of the low level hums and buzzing from our completely plugged-in world, making you realize just how loud the world is.

Learn more about Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Telecom Square Mifi Device

connected while traveling mifi Stay connected on your travels and rent a MIFI device.  No matter where you go in the world you’ll be able to be online – it’s much easier than dealing with international roaming. Plus you can connect up to 5 devices to the mifi device – perfect for group or family travel! I have been using Telecom Square Mifi devices for the last 4 years. They’ve been a life-saver on my Niece Project trips!

Ottsworld readers get a 10% discount, just enter “sherry” during checkout.

Rent a Telecom Square Mifi Device for your next trip


Clothing Travel Gear

Exofficio Storm Logic Jacket

Travel Gear JacketI ADORE this jacket. It’s perfect for travel as it’s lightweight, you can throw it in the washer and dryer, AND it doubles as a neck pillow…it’s genius. It also has about 6 inner pockets to hold all of your travel gear (like a watch salesman in a trench coat). It’s perfect for fall/spring weather and can even be used for mild winters (I wouldn’t take it to Antarctica as my only option). I’ve traveled with it to the Arctic this year, as well as all over Alaska and Ireland. I love things with dual purposes, so it was the neck pillow that won me over and made me a Storm Logic addict.

They no longer sell this version – but here’s the updated version –  From jacket to pillow…Before take-off. The convertible ExOfficio Cosima Jacket

Exofficio Zhanna Reversible Legging

travel leggingsI adore anything that has multiple uses, including all things reversible!  When Exofficio came out with their reversible tights I was pretty excited.  The fabric is super soft and comfortable which makes them perfect for long plane rides.  Heather gray on one side and blue or rose to pick from on the other side.  I use them to dress up with boots or flats, or go out for a run or hike – they are a great versatile piece for any traveler!

Learn more about the Exofficio Zhanna Reversible Legging

LuluLemon Vinyasa Scarf

travel scarfI had my eye on this scarf for over a year before I finally purchased it.  First – I love anything reversible – just about as much as I love products that have dual uses – and this awesome scarf is both.  It’s not just a scarf – it’s a little shrug, a blanket, a poncho – there are multiple ways to wear it.  The fabric is super soft and I always carry it onto the plane for when I inevitably get cold.

Learn more about the LULULEMON VINYASA SCARF

Smartwool Socks

Travel gear socksMy feet sweat a lot – but I’ve found a solution! Smartwool socks are GREAT for travel. They dry really fast, don’t hold odor, and they stay warm in the cold and are cooling in the heat. Because they don’t get smelly, I only have to take a couple of pair in my suitcase. I run in them, hike in them, and wear them to bed when my feet are cold and have no one to snuggle with. They are the only socks I travel with!

Learn more about Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Micro

Exofficio Underwear

travel gearThese are best on the market when it comes to travel underwear – however I honestly have no idea if they have any competition! Who in the world specializes in travel underwear?! Exofficio does. Why are these underwear special? They dry super fast – which means you can only take a couple of pairs and wash them out in a sink at night and they will be dry in a couple of hours. Seriously – I’ve done this many times! Plus – they are comfortable. And if you want to vamp it up – you can forgo the sporty ones I get and get the lacy thongs if you wish!

Learn more about ExOfficio Women’s Underwear


travel gear buffBuffs are great for so many uses – a hat, scarf, eye mask, tube top, wash cloth, helmet liner and even handkerchief. I’ve used mine for every single one of those situations… and never leave ‘home’ without it!

Buff UV Headband, Mosaic

Keen Shoes

Travel gear shoesI’ve tried many different water/adventure sandals and I keep coming back to Keen. I’ve been using them ever since I lived in Vietnam and had to endure rainy season. They are super for all kinds of hot adventures and I’ve even hiked pretty substantially in them. Plus…they make you look like a badass when they get muddy.

Learn more about KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal

PrAna Swimwear

travel gear swimwearTruth be told – I’m 45 and don’t feel comfortable in a bikini any longer – actually I don’t know if I ever did – even when I was 23. Yes, I know – body image #fail. However what I love about my PrAna Swimwear is that they have 2 piece options that are perfect for the adventurous badass in me that also likes to cover up a bit. I took this suit surfing in Australia, hiking in Hawaii (so that I could hop in the waterfall at the end of the hike), repelling down waterfalls, and snorkeling in Belize. It’s cute, comfortable and my favorite part is that it come with layers of matching board shorts and rash guards – perfect for the adventuresome female traveler!

My specific suit was from last year – however here’s PrAna’s their new collection!

Croc Ballet Flats

rain shoesI hate Crocs, I hate the look of them. However, I love their ballet flats that they make – mainly becuase they don’t look like Crocs, but they have the benefit of Crocs. I owned a pair when I lived in Saigon and I wore them every day because they are perfect piece of rainy season travel gear. It doesn’t matter if they get wet or muddy, just rinse them off.  Plus, they were comfortable, AND they look cute!

Crocs Women’s Malindi Flat Slingback


Photography Travel Gear

LensCoat Raincoat

travel camera gearLoose the plastic bags and get a proper rain solution for your expensive camera gear. I use a LensCoat Raincoat to keep my DSLR camera dry. It’s lightweight and easily stuffs into my camera bag and the design ensures that you can easily get to all of the controls while keeping your gear dry. Throw away the plastic bags and get this!

See the RainCoat designs and sizes at LensCoat

LensCoat LensCovers

travel photography gearThis is a super way to protect your lenses from scrapes, the elements, and provide them better resale value…plus…they are just damn fun. Dress up you boring drab lens with a Neopreen LensCover. Yes – these are meant for wildlife photographers, however the covers come in all sizes and various prints and colors. Decide to stand out or try to blend in whatever you want. I use one on my Canon 17 – 55mm lens as well as my long 300mm lens (pictured) . I love them!

See the LensCoat LensCover Options for your DSLR

Joby Gorillapod Tripod

travel tripodMy tripods actually spend more time in my storage unit than traveling with me. This is a pain point for me, I actually rarely carry a tripod since they are just so bulky and heavy and I already have too much gear to carry around for months at a time. So I decided to invest in good low light lenses instead as noted above. But I often find myself wishing I had a tripod with me in certain situations. I’ve sort of found a compromise for the weight and bulk issue with the Joby Gorillapod Focus Camera Tripod. It’s not a full size tripod which is great for weight and size issues, but it also isn’t as versatile as a regular tripod.  For me it’s a trade off that I can live with.

Rocket Blaster

PHotography travel gearNot only does it look cute, but it’s one of the most important things in my camera bag when I travel.  Ever found yourself in a dessert sand storm, dusty field, or wind storm while trying to change lenses?  Keep your camera sensor clean safely by using this simple air blaster.  Plus, it’s small and ‘squishable’ so it easily fits into your camera bag!

Learn more about Giottos AA1903 Rocket Air Blaster

That’s all I have for now…if you want other ideas of have questions about any of these products or how I’ve used them – just leave a question in the comments and I’m happy to answer them!

Happy shopping, and most importantly – happy travels!

Follow my Travels.

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